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Ka-Ching! or How Jordan Is Almost Back to Even

Poker is a helluva game. You can spend hours or days or weeks or years building a bankroll and lose the whole thing in one hand. But sometimes, the opposite can happen, too.

Poker this year at the Wall Street Game has been nothing short of frustrating. It isn't the cast of characters or the venue, as much as it is my inability to win against an all-star cast of players. It didn't help that I was on a cold spell for the first 3 months of this year, and confidence was dipping to an all-time low.

But poker is a fickle bitch, and I guess the tide turned. Friday started out like most other WSG nights. I arrived a tad late, since it was a cash game with open seating. I spent the earlier part of the evening with wifey Kim and Hudson, my buddy Jefe's cat. Jefe is in Texas for the Jewish holidays, so wifey Kim have his cat for the week. I didn't think I was allergic to cats, but since we've had Hudson, I've felt like crap. I'm congested with a runny nose and scratchy throat. But, hey, it is what it is.

Over at the WSG, I strolled in with my usual jovial spirit. I took the 10s, with Jamie acting as dealer (only, as in, hosting, dealing, but not playing) and Matty Ebs in the 1s. Ebs is a friend of mine, but I have to admit, it can be a bit annoying having him on my immediate left. The fact that I think he has my number doesn't help either. Once again, I bring it back to the idea of confidence. In the past, I felt like I knew how to play against Ebs. That feeling alone brings about an aire of confidence that translates into decisive, winning poker. But if losing, particularly to Ebs in this case (most recently, the KK v. K7s hand mentioned HERE), undermines that sense of confidence, the results are often indecisive play and further losses. If you were to go back and check the hand I mentioned, the key to my failure and Ebs' success came in my failure to listen to him when he pretty much announced his hand. That failure was not one of poker prowess as much as one of paying attention. So, ostensibly, such hands should not create in me the feeling that Ebs has my number, but sadly, confidence is not solely in the realm of logic. There is a lot of emotion there that can get the better of you.

I lost some minor pots early, trying to play to each player specifically. I don't remember much in the way of details, but I eventually caught some heat with a string of decent cards. I never saw Aces, but I got Queens a couple of times, some Big Slicks, and some Jacks. I think I got Kings once as well. For the most part, I tried to play these hands hard, but perhaps a bit too hard, as I rarely saw a river card. I evenly leaned over to Jamie to share in my delight. "My luck has turned around," I told him. "I'm finally getting good cards." I thought again. "Maybe I shouldn't say anything until the game is done."

With good cards, I was able to chip up to a solid $200 or so profit when I was dealt AK in LP. A player to my right, whose name I honestly never got...or can't offense, since he was an easy-going guy...had been limping a lot and folding to my raises. It's easy to notice these kinds of trends, so I was surprised when I raised with my AK to $10 and got folds from everyone except for my out-of-position neighbor. The flop came down King-high with two diamonds. He checked to me and I bet out $10, hoping to keep him in the hand. To my surprise, he raised $25 on top. I checked the board again and tried to determine what he had. I cannot remember exactly what told me that I was ahead, but I felt it. It's probably one of those Blink moments, where you subconsciously pick up things that can tell a lot more than those things you consciously seek. I eyed his stack and asked for a count. He had $95 behind, so I opted to push. He called, and we flipped over our cards. I had AK, he had A6...of diamonds. Jamie slowly dealt out the turn, and hesitated to allow us time to work out a deal (i.e, run business). No deal was made or even discussed, as I begged Jamie to deal the river quickly, like ripping off a bandaid instead of the slow, painful peal. He obliged by dealing a 7 of diamonds, bringing me from my lofty ~$200 profit down to a meager $40 or less profit.

That hand really rocked me, as I felt the fear of losing once again. I folded steadily for a bit while I regained my composure. I ran the hand through my head multiple times and tried to remind myself that I had played the hand correctly. Eventually, I convinced myself.

And then, the big hand came. I had been dealt a steady stream of KQ all night, and saw them win for other players in multiple hands, so it was easy to limp for $2 from LP with KQh when there were several limpers ahead of me. All-in-all, probably 6 of us saw a flop, AJ3 with two hearts. It folded to me, so I bet out $10, enough to hopefully get some callers and hopefully hit my draw. Jesse, in Ebs' old seat, called, and Dennis, who had apparently won hundreds of dollars earlier in the night before going to dinner, raised $25 on top. When I first arrived at the game, Dennis was still at dinner, but I got the impression from the other players that he was a bit of a wild card. He seemed like a mild-mannered, slightly graying gentleman. He wore glasses and had a gentle demeanor at the table. All of this belied the fact that he seemed to play fairly manically at the table. His raise was called by CK in the next seat, and then called by me as well, after I thought it through. It was easy to guess that someone had an Ace, and probably a strong one at that. Someone may've also had two-pair. Flush draws were also possible, and that created a double-edged sword. On one hand, it worked in my favor, since I was drawing to the nut flush and would likely felt any lesser flushes. It also worked against me, since two of my outs would be dead.

To my surprise, Jesse raised $100 on top. It was completely out of nowhere. Almost as amazingly, Dennis decided to call. At this point, CK got the point and folded, which left me with the tough choice. I eyed both players' stacks and realized that (a) they both had around $150 or more, and (b) I had them both covered. I took my time considering my options. I was scared to lose my entire $300 buy-in, but I was just as scared of letting opportunity pass me by. I called and we saw the turn, a non-heart middle card. Dennis pushed all-in for $168. I did some more math. There was easily $300 in the pot from Jesse's re-raise alone, and another $100+ from my initial flop bet and Dennis' re-raise. Dennis' push added over $150 to the pot, making for a $168 call to win about $600. If Jesse called, my odds would get even better. I considered the possibility that someone else was drawing to a flush, thus dropping my outs from 12 (9 hearts and 3 non-heart tens for Broadway) to 10 (7 hearts and 3 tens). I did not do actual math, moreso than just considering the totality of the circumstances. I called, and Jesse called all-in for less.

The river was a Ten of Hearts, giving me the nuts. I showed my cards, Jesse showed his 33 (for a flopped set) and Dennis mucked. I would expect that Dennis had AJ, but we'll never know.

That hand alone would've wiped out my entire losses for 2008, but I played for another two hours, losing about $100 in the process. In the end, I walked with $490 profit, wiping out my losses to two figures. I feel a renewed confidence in the game, and a bit of relief.

But make no doubt about it, I'm still me. I busted from Uncle Chuck's Basement Game when I decided to induce a bluff when I had top pair and the would-be bluffer had top two pair. LEMON!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:15 PM,


At 6:30 PM, Blogger BWoP said...

Nice to see you at the tables again :-)

I am *so* glad I got out of that hand. I had a big Ace, but when the action went as crazy as it did, I knew I was in trouble . . .

At 12:38 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Ya gotta ride the wave my man. Time to up your buyins. Feel like taking on the Salami Club?


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